The role of early childhood and primary education in fostering creativity, innovations and digital competence is one of the main Presidency's priorities in the field of education and training. Technological modernisation in schools is not always the basis for an innovative learning process. Innovations and creativity are a way of thinking, whereas technologies serve as support instruments to implement ideas. This topic has been discussed during the Presidency in several meetings, and the EU Education Ministers plan to adopt the Council conclusions on this matter at the Education, Youth, Culture and Sport Council on 18-19 May.
The participants discussed the ways to promote the establishing of training programmes for secondary and early childhood education teachers and encourage education and training providers to develop new pedagogical learning tools with the aim to facilitate creativity and innovations from an early age. The participants also discussed how schools and preschools facilitate creativity and innovative competences.
While digital tools and use of modern technologies cannot replace the essential classroom activities and learning materials, the development of digital skills and competences can facilitate progress in education systems. Promotion of creativity, innovations and digital skills is important at all levels of education — at the early ages of learning it improves the later learning process; child's ability to meet the challenges of the modern world; and help to find out one's talents and interests which then could be developed and expanded.
At the plenary sessions, delegates discussed the potential of digitally enabled practices to support teachers and schools through, for example, the e-twinning programmes, and the issue of talent recruitment and development in education by looking at the cases of Mission Possible and Teach for All programme.
The topic of the second day of plenary sessions was the accessibility of education and the solutions for the effectiveness of investments through school network management with a particular focus on small schools. The main focus was given to the guiding principles for the development of an effective school network that provides a holistic and balanced approach. The participants discussed different approaches to school network planning that are based on either geographic or demographic breakdown. School consolidation, size and accessibility issues (such as impact on student achievements, high school enrolment, timely completion of curriculum and early school leaving) were also important discussion elements.
By the proposal of the Latvian Presidency, the topic on "Accessibility of education and effectiveness of investments" was introduced on the meeting's agenda. It will be one of the main topics for the EU Education Ministers' lunch that will take place during the Education, Youth, Culture and Sports Council on 18-19 May.
The meetings of Directors-General for Schools are organised on a regular basis in order to discuss and share best practice on the most topical sectoral issues. The topics discussed at the meeting are important for the next dialogue on the strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training.
The meeting is co-financed by the Erasmus+ programme for education, training, youth and sports.